Human beings have a predisposition to feel lonely from time to time, whatever our life, whether introverted or extroverted. This is because we are social animals, and it is very easy that at one point we would suffer from the discomfort of not being able to communicate with someone as much as we would like. It’s normal.
However, the feeling of loneliness can be heightened by social phenomena, and this is precisely what has happened in recent decades. In fact, since the 1980s the number of Americans who claim to have no close friends has tripled, and the most common answer to the question “how many true friendships do you have?” is zero “.
This trend is also found in many other countries of a West which, although having popularized the use of social networks, seems to pose serious problems for its inhabitants when it comes to finding loyal friends. It’s a real epidemic of loneliness.
The scarcity of friendships and their psychological effects
The bad thing about paying so much attention to the number of friends added to Facebook is that it is very easy to stop paying attention to the quality of these relationships. In that sense, it’s no surprise that while last year the average number of friends each user has on their Facebook profile was around 330, most Americans say they have at most one confidant.
Why did this epidemic of loneliness arise? It should be noted that the criticisms that are often made on smartphones and social media as the culprits are unfounded. Perhaps they help to compensate for this problem of lack of contact between people, But they are not at their root. in fact, what happened may have been related to the development of a way of thinking, and not so much to a habit of technological consumption.
That way of thinking that isolates us more from the rest and makes us more frequent in the warm waters of loneliness is individualism and, fundamentally, the idea to be put forward above others. The reason is that it brings us into a logic according to which personal relationships are an instrument.
The epidemic of loneliness and individualism
Imagine that you are a person whose main goal is gain power to stand out from the crowd.
Ads sell you beauty ideals that you can use to set yourself apart from others. Leisure services constantly tempt you with the concept of exclusivity, the meaning is basically that not many people can access it, like it’s talking about the value of their product (and by extension your value as a consumer of ” this ”). Business training plans talk about the importance of teamwork, but at the end of the day, they sell the need to be your own boss and improve yourself by overcoming obstacles (whatever they may be) to build a good future. And the dominant Internet discourse aimed at young people, of course, is that the important thing is to be visible, to be someone relevant.
Now ask yourself if, with this mental framework, you wouldn’t mix up a lot of your personal and informal relationships with this power building project. A project which, on the other hand, does not aim to create good living conditions, but to have the ability to control one’s own life to avoid being hurt from the outside. In individualism, even the goal we set for ourselves is part of the individualistic mentality.
All of these aspects of individualism lead us to the same conclusion: life can be an exciting place in the future, but in the present what you must experience is careful loneliness. No one is watching over anyone and there are no bonds of solidarity because everyone tries to get their life out of the resources to which they have access. In the face of this constant emergency, making real friendships doesn’t make sense.
What do you need to do to better connect with others?
Of course, not everyone is extremely individualistic, but that doesn’t mean we are infected with this philosophy when it comes to developing lifestyle habits. The mere fact of living in a world where this way of thinking is advertised makes us imitate its precepts, even though we have only created them to a certain extent. Simply, everyone is doing it.
Interestingly, this simple fact already gives us an idea of what we can do to combat the epidemic of loneliness: lift this veil of appearances and reject the imposition of individualism in a collective and supportive manner. How to do? Although it may sound unglamorous, a good option is to show our own vulnerabilities to others.
Proof that we truly believe in a philosophy of life based on the bonds of friendship and solidarity, the authentic shatters the idea that “life is a jungle”. It can cost at first (all small personal and collective revolutions do), but the fruits can be very sweet as we see how, little by little, others start to look beyond us at the illusion of mistrust. .